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June 25, 2024

Google Local Service Ads - Eligibility, Verification and Best Practices

Google Local Service Ads - learn about review minimums, eligibility, verification, optimization tips, and how they differ from Google Search Ads.

We're big on trust marketing around here, and Google's Local Service Ads (LSAs) are all about helping local businesses build credibility with potential customers. Moreso, one could easily argue, than any paid advertising product they've ever introduced.

Here's why. Placement in the LSA network isn't as straightforward as it's been with classic Google Search Ads (GSAs). Membership isn't guaranteed, nor is participation open to all comers. In addition to basic core industry requirements, there is a velvet rope of verification to get around - and they don't make it easy.

Businesses have to meet strict standards, through comprehensive background checks and legal documents, to even be eligible to advertise. This vetting process weeds out questionable operators and showcases the true local professionals.

The coveted "Google Guaranteed" badge is like a big flashing sign that says "you can rely on us." It's an instant credibility booster that can help local businesses stand out from the competition, but there are definitely a few hoops to jump through before joining the ranks of the most reputable.

Google Local Service Ads

Let's get down to (local) business as you learn more about how to navigate LSA entry and optimization. We promise it will seem less daunting after we cover the following:

  1. What are Google Local Service Ads?
  2. The Differences Between Google Search Ads and Local Service Ads
  3. The Benefits of Using Local Service Ads
  4. Minimum Review Requirement to be Local Service Ads Eligible
  5. How Does Google Verify Local Service Ads Qualifications?
  6. Local Service Ads Ranking Factors
  7. Combining Google Search and Local Service Ads
  8. Best Practices for Launching Effective Local Service Ads

1. What are Google Local Service Ads?

Google's Local Service Ads (LSAs) are a trust, social proof and credibility-based form of paid advertising designed to help vetted and verified local service businesses stand out to potential customers in their area.

2. The Differences Between Google Search Ads and Local Service Ads

*Note: “Local search ads” is a term often used synonymously with "Google Search Ads (GSAs)". They are describing the same campaign type and should not be confused with LSAs. Here are the main differences between Local Service Ads and Google Search Ads:

  • Target Users: LSAs are specifically designed for local service-based businesses such as plumbers, electricians, and lawyers. GSAs can be used by almost any business looking to target local customers with fewer verification and eligibility requirements.
  • Pricing Model: Local Service Ads use a pay-per-lead model, where businesses only pay when a customer contacts them through the ad, such as by calling or messaging. In contrast, Google Search Ads use a pay-per-click (PPC) model, where businesses pay every time someone clicks on their ad, regardless of whether it leads to a conversion.
  • Ad Placement: Local Service Ads appear at the very top of the search results page, above both organic search results and Google Search Ads. This prime placement helps local businesses increase their SERP visibility.
  • Verification and Badges: To qualify for Local Service Ads, businesses must pass Google's verification process and can earn badges like "Google Guaranteed" or "Google Screened" that build trust with potential customers. Google Search Ads do not have these verification requirements.
  • Keyword Targeting: With LSAs, Google handles the keyword targeting and optimization, matching businesses to relevant search queries based on the services they offer. GSAs require more manual keyword research and bidding.

3. The Benefits of Using Local Service Ads

The main benefits of using Google Local Service Ads (LSAs) for local service providers include:

  • Increased Visibility: LSAs appear at the very top of the search results page, above both organic search results and traditional Google Ads. This prime placement increases the likelihood that potential customers will see and choose the business over competitors.
  • Pay-Per-Lead Model: Businesses only pay for valid leads, meaning they are charged when a customer contacts them through the ad, such as by phone call or message. This ensures that the advertising budget is spent on potential customers who are genuinely interested in the services offered.
  • Trust and Credibility: Businesses that pass Google's verification process can earn badges like "Google Guaranteed" or "Google Screened." These badges build trust with potential customers, as they indicate that Google has vetted the business. This endorsement can significantly increase customer confidence and lead conversion rates. Verified reviews from customers who booked through LSAs get a special "Google verified" label
  • Highly Targeted Advertising: Google handles the keyword targeting and optimization, matching businesses to relevant search queries based on the services they offer. This ensures that the ads are shown to users who are actively searching for the specific services provided by the business.
  • Direct Connection with Local Customers: LSAs facilitate a direct line of communication between your business and potential customers. When someone clicks on your ad, they have the option to call you directly or send a message requesting your services. This direct connection shortens the customer journey, making it easier for customers to contact you.
  • Extended Reach: LSAs can be used alongside traditional Google Search Ads, providing a comprehensive advertising strategy that covers different stages of the customer journey. This dual approach can help capture a wider audience and increase overall lead generation.
  • Social Proof: The ability to showcase positive customer reviews and ratings directly in the ad further enhances trust and attracts leads.

These benefits make LSAs a powerful tool for local service providers looking to enhance their online presence, build trust with potential customers, and efficiently manage their advertising budgets.

4. Minimum Review Requirement to be Local Service Ads Eligible

When first introduced, the eligibility requirement was only one customer review. However, on June 30, 2022, Google increased the minimum requirement to five customer reviews for certain business categories. The specific categories that now require a minimum of five customer reviews are:

  • Real estate agents and brokers
  • Personal injury lawyers
  • HVAC
  • House cleaning
  • Tree service
  • Roofing

If they plan to increase the list of categories requiring five minimum reviews anytime soon, we were unable to find related references at the time of publishing.

Review Response

5. How Does Google Verify Local Service Ads Qualifications?

Google verifies the qualifications of businesses for Local Service Ads through a comprehensive screening process that varies by business category and location. Here are the key components:

  • Background Checks: Google conducts background checks on the business, the business owner and certain employees. This includes identity and criminal history research, such as cross-checks against national sex offender, terrorist, or sanctions registries in the U.S. For the business, it even includes civil litigation history checks.
  • Business Registration and Licensing: Businesses must provide proof of their business registration and relevant licenses. This involves uploading documents or providing registration numbers to verify compliance with local laws and regulations.
  • Insurance Verification: Businesses are required to upload copies of their insurance documents to verify that they have the necessary coverage for the services they offer.
  • Google Business Profile (GBP) Verification: Businesses must claim and verify their Google Business Profile. This can be done through various methods such as phone, text, email, or video. Verification ensures that the business information is accurate and that only authorized individuals can manage the profile.
  • Review Requirements: Businesses must meet minimum customer review requirements. For certain categories, this includes having at least five customer reviews to qualify for LSAs.
  • Advanced Verification: For some business categories, Google requires advanced verification to prevent unauthorized businesses from advertising. This process includes a review of the Google Ads account, publicly available data, and video interviews conducted by Google.
  • Complaints and Compliance: Google reviews any major or multiple complaints against the business, which can negatively affect the business's ranking or lead to suspension from the LSA platform.

On average, when the documents have been comprehensively submitted, verification typically takes 3-4 weeks. They are also subject to change at any time, so be sure to review the latest requirements for your vertical carefully (and directly from Google’s guidelines).

6. Local Service Ads Ranking Factors

There are six factors that can affect your ranking within Local Service Ads, many of which are similar to how they favor individual "free" Google Business Profile positioning:

  • Budget: No surprise there.
  • Proximity: Google will take into account how close your business is to the potential customer’s location. The closer, the higher the ranking.
  • Reviews: Reviews are the key factor when it comes to the ranking of your Local Service Ads. Google takes into account your business review score and the total number of reviews. It will compare both numbers to your competitors to determine the ranking.
  • Responsiveness: Google will be tracking your responsiveness to potential customers that contacted you via the Local Service Ads. If you respond in a fast and timely manner, this will help you rank higher. Delaying the responses will negatively affect your ranking.
  • Business Hours: In order to determine your ranking, Google will review your opening hours. If you are available at the moment of the potential customer’s search, this will allow you to rank higher. Likewise, if you are not available at the time that a potential customer is looking for your service, this will negatively affect your ranking.
  • Complaints: Google will review major or multiple complaints which will negatively affect your ranking and could even lead to overall suspension from the Local Services Ads platform.

7. Combining Google Search and Local Service Ads

Yes, both ad types can be used simultaneously. Local Service Ads are a more targeted and cost-effective advertising option for local service providers, while Google Search Ads offer more flexibility and control over the advertising campaign. Many businesses choose to use both ad types to reach customers at different stages of the buying journey.

8. Best Practices for Launching Effective Local Service Ads

Here are some tips for creating effective Google Local Service Ads:

  • Optimize your Google Business Profile. Make sure your business name, address, phone number, website, hours, and service areas are accurate and up-to-date. Add photos and respond to reviews. Linking your GBP to your LSA helps with ranking.
  • Increase your Google reviews. Aim for an average rating of at least 3.0 and get as many reviews as possible. Reviews are a key ranking factor for LSAs. Respond to all reviews, positive and negative.
  • Include all the specific services you provide. Be detailed rather than general in your service offerings to attract the most relevant leads. For example, list "Buyer's Agent" and "Luxury Properties" instead of just "Real Estate Services."
  • Define broad service areas. If you're willing to serve an entire region, county, or metro area, use that as your service area rather than limiting it to specific zip codes. Broader service areas can help your ad show more often.
  • Enable all lead contact options. Phone calls, text messages, and booking links if available. Use a dedicated tracking phone number for each. The more ways leads can contact you, the better.

Key Takeaways

We just hit you with a lot. Here are some points to remember, and you always have the option to bookmark.

  • Thorough verification processes help ensure the credibility and reliability of businesses.
  • Accurate and up-to-date Google Business Profile details are crucial for LSA optimization.
  • Positive reviews and quick responsiveness significantly impact LSA rankings.
  • Broadening service areas can increase the frequency of ad appearances.
  • Combining Local Service Ads and Google Search Ads can enhance overall advertising effectiveness.


LSAs take the consumer guesswork out of finding a reputable provider and are a vetted means to protect and insure a safer, more trustworthy marketplace for local service providers. By prioritizing quality and transparency, they're helping consumers find the best options in their area and giving the best-of-the-best local businesses the recognition they deserve.

Dave Pye

A digital marketing dinosaur, my SEO career began in 1999 at one of Boston's first digital marketing agencies. Prior to becoming Widewail's Director of Search I had a long focus on GMB, reviews and local organic visibility for automotive dealerships in competitive locales. Regardless of a specific industry, this decade of experience was the perfect precursor for a role supporting our innovative Engage and Invite services. Originally from Canada, I enjoy hockey, Frank Sinatra, writing on a variety of subjects, old movies - and am the proud parent of a geriatric Boston Terrier. Customers, peers, or anyone with online review-related questions are encouraged to contact me, anytime.

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